Members Perspectives

2021 brief news from the Hungarian Chemical Society

Joining this year’s call of the IUPAC Global Women’s Breakfast on 9 February 2021, the Hungarian Chemical Society (HCS) organised an online lecture session entitled “Digital vs Traditional Education“. After the opening held by Livia Sarkadi (President of HCS), the speakers summarized the major lessons of digital education, mainly in the field of chemistry, during the COVID lockdown. Éva Magócs (Director of Ferenc Rákóczi Grammar School, Budapest) told that they were not unprepared for the fact that education had moved to a virtual environment in March 2020, as their school with full internet access has long used the online platform as a communication interface and all their teachers and students already had some experience with digital teaching and learning. As the main benefits, she mentioned the methodological development, the versatility and diversity of learning, the improvement of teacher-student cooperation, and even the visualisation of dangerous chemical experiments in the form of videos. However, there were difficulties in drawing reaction equations, chemical structures and isomers, and also involving some students in class work. Edit Székely (Deputy Dean of Education, Faculty of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology, Budapest University of Technology and Economics) highlighted that they did not use any digital methodologies in higher education earlier, so they were unexpectedly affected by the transition they had to prepare for during the 1-week early spring break. The main problem was that not all subjects had teaching materials suitable for online education, and this meant for professors a significant increase in the time spent on preparation for lectures. Laboratory exercises that required manual skills, as well as research works were the main losers of online education. Assessing students’ knowledge and ensuring independent work was also a challenge. From a teacher’s perspective, the issue of “talking to the monitor”, the lack of student feedback, impersonality, and isolation were also very characteristic, although the benefits of digital teaching will continue to be exploited in the future.

In addition to education, the pandemic unfortunately also affected HCS’s personnel. Due to the tragic death of István Pálinkó, the new Secretary General of HCS, László Tamás Mika (Head of Department of Chemical and Environmental Process Engineering, FCTB BUTE) was elected at the beginning of September.

Éva Frank
Correspondent from the Hungarian Chemical Society